News / Asia

    China, Economy Focus of Taiwan Elections

    FILE - Supporters of Taiwan's ruling KMT or Nationalist Party presidential candidate Eric Chu cheer during a campaign rally in Taoyuan City, Taiwan, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016.
    FILE - Supporters of Taiwan's ruling KMT or Nationalist Party presidential candidate Eric Chu cheer during a campaign rally in Taoyuan City, Taiwan, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016.

    Taiwan will hold a general election Saturday to elect the 14th president and vice president of the Republic of China, and all 113 seats of the 9th Legislative Yuan.

    According to the Central Election Commission, approximately 11.8 million citizens are eligible to cast ballots. Here's a look at the upcoming poll:

    The candidates

    Eric Chu is the mayor of Taiwan's most populous metropolis, New Taipei City, and chairman of the ruling Kuomintang party (KMT). 

    Chu entered the 2016 presidential race late. The KMT drafted him in mid-October last year, replacing a female candidate on the ticket.

    Chu is viewed as a staunchly pro-China candidate. Like outgoing President Ma Ying-jeou, he favors building strong relations with Beijing on the basis of the “1992 Consensus,” in which both sides insist there is “one China” but agree to disagree on what this means.

    Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party chairman and presidential candidate in the 2016 elections, Eric Chu, gestures during an extraordinary party congress in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015.
    Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party chairman and presidential candidate in the 2016 elections, Eric Chu, gestures during an extraordinary party congress in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015.

    Tsai Ing-wen is the head of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).  She was Taiwan's first female presidential candidate during the 2012 presidential race, which she lost to Ma. 

    She has been the frontrunner in polls leading up to the elections and is widely expected to win Saturday, becoming Taiwan’s first female president.

    She was one of the chief drafters of the "special state-to-state relations" doctrine of former president Lee Teng-hui, which defined Taiwan and China's relationship on country-to-country terms, angering Beijing and leading to heightened tensions.

    She has since moderated her views, promising to maintain peaceful and stable relations if elected.

    Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen gives a speech at a party congress in Taoyuan, northern Taiwan, Sept. 19, 2015.
    Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen gives a speech at a party congress in Taoyuan, northern Taiwan, Sept. 19, 2015.

    James Soong is the founder and chair of the smaller People First Party (PFP). 

    The former member of the KMT, Soong says his goal is to offer Taiwanese voters an alternate choice to the two traditional parties.  He rejects the notion that his candidacy will help the opposition beat his former party, the KMT.​

    Taiwan's People First Party Chairman James Soong gives a thumbs-up to supporters as he announces his candidacy in the January 2016 presidential election, in Taipei, Taiwan, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015.
    Taiwan's People First Party Chairman James Soong gives a thumbs-up to supporters as he announces his candidacy in the January 2016 presidential election, in Taipei, Taiwan, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015.

    The legislative yuan

    The KMT currently holds 65 of the legislature’s 113 seats, all of which are up for grabs on Saturday. It needs to retain 57 of them to keep its majority.

    Most of the seats are chosen by geographical districts, but 34 are filled by the parties based on the national vote and six are reserved for aboriginal constituencies.

    Polls show the KMT risks losing its majority for the first time in Taiwan's history.

    The issues

    Cross-Strait relations:  As in past elections, the crucial political issue is China, and whether Taiwan’s future lies in a closer relationship with its giant neighbor or an autonomous identity. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and sees the unification of the country as a central goal.

    Under the pro-reunification KMT government, cross-strait relations reached a high in November 2015, when Ma met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Singapore, heralding the first meeting between the top leaders of Taiwan and China since the Chinese Civil War in 1945.

    But even though Tsai has pledged to keep the relations status quo if elected, there is no guarantee she will be able to contain DPP members that take a more hardline approach to Taiwan independence.

    Domestic concerns:  The island's economy is expected to play a major role in the outcome. The past eight years of Ma's presidency has seen increased trade ties with China, but that has not proven profitable for the island. As China’s growth has slowed, Taiwan’s economy has plummeted, contracting over the most recent quarter. Gross domestic product growth for 2015 is expected to be just 1 percent.

    Wages are also stagnating, even as companies make profits, leaving many to believe it's mainly businesses, not ordinary people, which have benefited from the closer trade ties with China.

    The results

    The Central Election Commission of Taiwan will begin to post results on its website after polls close.

    The new legislature will be seated on February 1. The victor in the presidential race will not take office until May 20.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora